Stop texting and driving. It is deadly. Period. This is because it distracts you in three significant ways: cognitively, visually, and manually. You need all of these faculties to stay safe when driving. You have to direct all of your focus to the task at hand when you are on the road, not to your phone.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that over 3,300 people died and 421,000 sustained injuries in distraction-related crashes in 2012. In fact, texting while driving increases your risk of crashing by 23 times. It is just not worth the risk.
But if you are like many people, it is just hard to put the phone away. We get it; many of us are accustomed to having our phones on 24/7. It is challenging to resist the temptation to not answer a text when you hear the notification. In our culture, we are seemingly drawn to our phones like moths to a light – and on the road, this can mean disaster.
Fortunately, there are various tools available that can help you quit the habit. With commitment and practice, you can learn to stop texting and driving – you will be doing yourself and everyone else on the road a favor. Our tips below can help.
#1: Check your phone carrier for anti-texting resources.
Cell phone service providers are an excellent resource for anti-texting facts, self-helps, and campaigns to take part in. Most of them support state and federal laws banning texting while driving. They encourage consumers to put down their phones when in the driver’s seat, and to wait until they arrive at their destination before they pick it back up. Check your carrier’s website or call the information line to inquire about useful resources that can help you stop texting and driving.
For example, here are some of the resources that the two largest carriers offer.
- Verizon – In addition to taking part in the national “It Can Wait” campaign, Verizon offers a service that answers your phone while driving and free consumer safety info about driving responsibly.
- AT&T – AT&T, which also supports “It Can Wait,” sponsors anti-texting commercials, offers an anti-texting-while-driving mobile solutions, and provides informative videos, infographics, and news about texting and driving on its site.
#2: Download an app that prevents texting while driving.
You might try downloading one of the many apps on the market that disable texting and other functions while driving. Some apps are designed to simply silence the phone while in driving mode, while others answer the text or call with an automated reply. There are also apps that allow parents to remotely disable their teen’s phone while she is driving.
Some of the most popular apps include SafeDrive, which rewards you with points for not texting while driving that you can use for discounts at participating stores, and Drivesafe.ly, which reads your texts aloud as audio and auto-responds without you needing to touch your phone. Peruse Google Play or the App Store for apps that might work for you.
#3: Take a family pledge to not text and drive.
You can strengthen your commitment to stop texting and driving by making it a promise to your family. Your partner and kids can help hold you accountable. This is particularly important if you have a teen driver at home; your commitment to not pick up the phone while driving will set a good example for her. Even if you do not think your teen notices, rest assured she is watching you – and will follow your lead.
Have a family meeting and make a pledge/family agreement to put down the phone when in the driver’s seat. Include consequences for violations. Have everyone sign the agreement and post it in a high traffic area at home. You can draft your own agreement, or use one of the many that are freely available online, such as this agreement, offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
#4: Physically put your phone away.
At the risk of sounding overly simplistic, have you tried actually putting your phone where you cannot reach it while you are driving? When it is on your console or passenger seat, it can be awfully enticing to just pick it up for “quick peek” at a text. But that quick peek can prove fatal. It takes roughly five seconds to read a text; travelling at 55 mph, this means you will go the entire length of a football field without looking up, according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. A deadly crash only takes a fraction of that time.
Instead, turn the phone off or put it in airplane mode and stash it out-of-reach in the trunk before you hop in the driver’s seat. You will not be tempted to text if you cannot reach it. After all, no text message or post is worth a life. Whatever it is, it can wait until you arrive. If you need a quick reminder, check out these hard-hitting public service announcements on “It Can Wait.”
#5: Let a passenger text for you.
For long trips or on other occasions where having your phone on and present is actually justified (e.g., navigating, emergencies, etc.), either pull over to safely use your phone or have your passenger text for you. Most passengers are more than happy to operate your phone for you while driving, especially considering their life is in your hands.
A New Zealand company released a funny commercial that illustrates this point in a memorable way. “Hello” emphasizes the important role that passengers play in preventing drivers from texting, and encourages drivers to “Put your passengers first. Drive Phone Free.” Check it out sometime – when you are not driving, of course.
Where can I find more info about the texting and driving epidemic?
Feel free to check out some of our articles on texting and driving on our site for free information and ideas to help you make your decision to stop texting a permeant one. You can also read more interesting articles on the Cordisco & Saile LLC blog, or follow us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on laws, self-helps, and tips for safer driving.